Wai-o-tapu, is about 30 minutes south of Rotorua, the major thermal area of New Zealand, with volcanoes, hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and active geysers. (And the smell of sulfur everywhere.) Wai-o-tapu has some of the most unusual and beautiful formations in the area. We get there around 3 PM. Last entry is at 3:30.
While my husband loved Wai-o-tapu, I found it creepy. It was really quite surreal, with strange multi colored formations, each one indicative (by the color) of its major chemical component (like yellow for sulfur). We walked all the very well marked trails. At one point I had clouds of sulfur smelling steam just engulfing me. I had never seen anything like this before.
We left around 5 PM. Two hours was plenty of time for me although my husband, who is an avid photographer and was going nuts with the colors and shapes, could have stayed longer.
When we had driven into the area, we had seen signs for Mud Pools. We found them on the way out and this I loved. I was fascinated, watching the mud pop and spit. Almost like watching a Maxwell House coffee commercial. We probably spent about ½ hr there just watching mud ‘boil'.
This area of New Zealand is extremely thermal active. If you have never experienced this, definitely plan on spending some time in the area.